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Friday, February 5, 2016

Is this all there is?

In review of Luke 6:17-23 it says, 

"17 When they came down from the mountain, the disciples stood with Jesus on a large, level area, surrounded by many of his followers and by the crowds. There were people from all over Judea and from Jerusalem and from as far north as the seacoasts of Tyre and Sidon. 18 They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those troubled by evil spirits were healed. 19 Everyone tried to touch him, because healing power went out from him, and he healed everyone.

20 Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said,

“God blesses you who are poor,
   for the Kingdom of God is yours.
21 God blesses you who are hungry now,
   for you will be satisfied.
God blesses you who weep now,
   for in due time you will laugh.
22 What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. 23 When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way." (NLT)

In this passage we see people from all over the surrounding area had come to hear and to be healed of their diseases and evil spirits from Jesus. It seems to me that people, afraid they wouldn’t be helped even tried to touch him as healing power went out from him. However the verse also mentions that “He healed everyone”, he must have taken the time to be with each person who asked for his help. This is encouraging and to me means that Jesus will heal anyone who asks.

I think a lot of people must have been wondering and asking the question, “Is this life and what has to offer all there is?  As Jesus spoke to the people, he explained that God blesses: You who are poor (the kingdom will be given), you who are hungry now (you will be satisfied), you who weep now (in due time you will laugh). He then went on to explain what blessings await us all when others hate, exclude, mock and curse us as evil, because we follow Jesus. He even went as far as to say, “When this happens, be happy! For great rewards await us in heaven.” What we are experiencing was also experienced by the prophets of the past.

The people had come to hear and be healed by him, and his news was that in answer the the questions of “is this all there is” was “great reward awaits you in heaven.”

In this short burst of eternal truths, Jesus hits the reset button on the conventional expectations for success in life. In these rhythmic verses, he highlights qualities and characteristics that have little currency in our current world, but are priceless in the “Kingdom of God.” Here on earth, people who have strength of spirit often horde the treasure, but people who are poor in spirit gain the eternal treasure of the kingdom of heaven.
The same is true for mourners and the gentle and the desperate-for-justice and the merciful and the pure and the peacemakers and the persecuted. Be happy about it, says Jesus, because there is a real place (his “hometown”) where all of these denigrated characteristics are treated like the priceless treasures they are. No, the standards we’ve been taught to respect, the values that human beings typically reward, are often not the values that God rewards. This isn’t all there is, and we can live in that reality right now.

This morning I thank you God for the reminder that this life isn't all there is. It's easy for me and others to get caught up in what's happening in our lives today. Often there is despair, hopelessness, and uncertainty. In this passage you gave the people and myself the truth that this life isn't all there is. We can live today in the reality that what you have prepared for us in eternity will be so much better.

I am reminded that there is a lot of pain out there, and the hope is in his church and his followers. I can be a light and a pathway into his grace if I will just look for where he is at work and join him.

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